The mission of Lakewood Ranch Gymnastics (LWRG), is to provide the highest quality gymnastic training to all ages and levels of athletes in a safe, positive and stimulating environment, while developing strong, happy young people of good character and good sportsmanship.
While challenging each athlete to progress to his or her individual ability and commitment level, we will strive to help each child grow, not only in his/her physical abilities, but also as people of character, integrity, and sportsmanship, and to become contributing members of society. We will assist our parents in teaching their children to take responsibility for their actions, to think for themselves, to encourage them to act respectfully to their peers and coaches, and to instill a sense of pride in their athletic abilities and accomplishments. It is our goal to provide a program that the whole family can enjoy and spend quality time together in a wholesome environment. We hope to achieve all of this in a way which works in a cohesive manner for everyone involved – the athlete, the parents, and the staff of LWRG.
WHO WE ARE
David and Laura Parraga
Owners David and Laura Parraga both have an extensive background in the gymnastics arena. David is a former Venezuelan National Team member and international caliber-athlete, while Laura is a former competitive gymnast, judge, and professional cheerleader. Up until May of 2012 Laura and David were the optional head coaches at LaFleur’s Gymnastics in Largo for 9 years while living in Manatee County.
During this time they had many teams win numerous state titles as well as coaching individuals to state, regional, and national championship titles. David and Laura currently have several athletes competing in NCAA gymnastics programs, many attaining full athletic scholarships. They are among select coaches in the area/state currently participating in the elite gymnastics arena and attend camps and activities at the USA Gymnastics National Team Training Center at the Karolyi Ranch. Both David and Laura are in good standing with USAG and are safety certified, have completed NCSI background checks and are Adult and Pediatric CPR Certified. They are excited to provide their expertise to area gymnasts, while now being so close to home.
David Parraga, who was born and raised in Venezeula, started his career in gymnastics at the age of 6 when he was spotted by a gymnastics coach flipping around on the beach. After training for many years, David became a member of the Venezuelan National Gymnastics Team, which he was on for 6 consecutive years and was the Venezuelan athlete of the year. He was also a Medalist in the 1987 Pan American Junior Games, and had many assignments to compete in International Competitions all over the world. During his time of travel he soon came to realize he wanted to live in the United States. So, in 1999 he moved to Miami. Since then David has worked at several well known gymnastics camp; such as Woodward, the University of Georgia, and Penn State University, as well as in private clubs. In David’s spare time he loves fishing, golfing, and watching baseball.
Laura Parraga, who started gymnastics at the age of three, was born and raised in South Carolina. After gymnastics, Laura spent many of her years as a cheerleader and was fortunate to have had the opportunity to cheer in SuperBowl XXXIII in Miami, when the Atlanta Falcons were playing in it. During her early cheerleading days, Laura began coaching part time at her local gymnastics training center, and found her passion. She quickly developed the technical skills required, but found that her greatest joy was watching the young gymnasts set and achieve goals. Laura is a nationally recognized and accredited gymnastics judge and has been coaching and judging since 1992. While not in the gym, Laura enjoys antique shopping and boating.
Preschool/Recreational and Xcel Director
Jill was born and raised in Louisville, KY. She was a gymnast and dancer from the ages of 4-14. After competing gymnastics Jill began cheerleading that then led her to college cheerleading at the University of Louisville where she graduated with her Bachelor’s in Health Promotion. Jill began coaching at her childhood gymnastics club while attending college and quickly realized her love and passion for the sport and more importantly the kids involved.
She has been coaching for over 26 years heading many programs from preschool through competitive team. Jill has passed NCSI background checks, and is pediatric and adult CPR certified. Outside of the gym Jill enjoys running and cross training as well as redoing old furniture. Jill has always said “There is nothing better than getting smiles and hugs from all the kids, it makes my day”. Jill currently coaches preschool and our Xcel Competitive Team athletes.
Compulsory Team Director
Caroline was born in Sarasota, but raised in Tampa, Florida. She graduated high school in 2009 and is currently attending the University of South Florida and pursuing a degree in Elementary Education. She graduated from USF in December of 2013. Caroline began gymnastics while in elementary school and competed in both compulsory and optional levels.
While in high school, Caroline joined an all-star cheer leading team for two years and was also a part of her high school’s varsity cheer team for her senior year. She began coaching gymnastics the summer after she finished high school and has enjoyed every minute of it! Caroline has worked at LWRG since April of 2013. In that short time she has coached numerous Level 2,3,& 4 individual state champions, and has coached our Level 3 & 4 teams to division 1 state team titles! Caroline is a USA Gymnastics accredited judge for the compulsory levels. Caroline has passed NCSI background checks, and is pediatric and adult CPR certified. She has always loved gymnastics and it is one of her true passions!
Dali Burton (Lemezan)
Dali was born in Bosnia and Herzegovina and moved to St. Petersburg, Florida at the age of five. She began gymnastics at the age of eight and fell in love with it immediately. With her instant love for the sport she couldn’t get enough of gymnastics and it soon became a lifestyle. She trained under Laura and David Parraga at Lafleur’s Gymnastics of Largo.
While there she achieved several individual state titles, regional titles, qualified to three Eastern J.O. Championships and was the 2008 Eastern J.O. Level 9 vault champion. She was also able to accomplish her dream of performing as a collegiate gymnast as she was accepted to the University of Florida as a member of the Gator Gymnastics team. As a freshman in college she was a part of UF’s vault lineup for every meet and set her collegiate best score of a 9.9. She was a member of three SEC title winning teams and was a part of the first ever NCAA National Championship title for the UF Gymnastics team. While at Florida she was named to the National Association of Collegiate Gymnastics Coaches Scholastic All-America team and was a four time SEC Academic Honor Roll recipient. She had the time of her life competing for a top ranked University and learned so much about gymnastics and herself. She is ready to pass on her knowledge to the next generation of athletes and is so very happy to be at LWRG coaching along side of her club coaches.
In 2013 she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Sociology. After graduation she interned with the UF Strength and Conditioning program where she was able to work with the gymnastics, women’s soccer and lacrosse teams. Dali has passed NCSI background checks, and is pediatric and adult CPR certified. When she’s not in the gym she enjoys spending time with my family and her husband, Clay. She enjoy working out, cooking, and watching football….lots of football!
Brandi Witman was born and raised in Orlando, Florida where she trained and competed at Orlando Metro Gymnastics for 8 years. She trained under Jeff Wood and Christi Mitchell and was a TOPS national team member in 1996. She was a level 10 gymnast for four years and had many great opportunities as a gymnast. She was the 2004 level 10 National beam champion and placed 4th all-around in 2004.
She was therefore named a national team member in 2004. In 2005 she suffered 2 fractures in her neck and was unable to compete. Despite her injury, she returned to gymnastics and qualified to nationals in 2006. At the 2006 national competition, she competed two different skills on beam that had never been done before. Therefore, she was fortunate and blessed to have two different skills named after her on balance beam. Brandi received a full-ride scholarship to the University of Maryland where she grew as a gymnast and young adult. She was 2007 EAGL Rookie of the Year and Maryland MVP all four years that she competed there. she competed all-around all four years and qualified to regionals each year. Lastly, she was captain for Maryland gymnastics her junior and senior year. Brandi had many incredible memories as a gymnast at Maryland and made friends that she will have for a lifetime.
Brandi graduated from Maryland with a bachelors degree in Kinesiology and a bachelors degree in Elementary Education with a math emphasis. She is a newlywed to her college sweetheart, Tyler Witman and have recently moved to the Lakewood Ranch area. She has two incredible sisters and a brother. Family is EXTREMELY important to her. Brandi is currently a Kindergarten teacher at Gullett Elementary, and has passed NCSI background checks. In March of 2015 Brandi received the prestigious teacher of the year “Excellence in Education” award for Manatee County. She has a passion and love for children and gymnastics.
Andy comes to us with a strong resume of coaching state and regional gymnastics champions as well as national qualifiers here from Florida. His background includes doing 8 years of competitive gymnastics and he was also a running back and occasional free safety at the University of Central Florida. He graduated from UCF with a degree in exercise science with a concentration in human performance and rehabilitation.
JaCia was born in Hartford, Connecticut and was raised in Ocala, Florida. She started gymnastics at the age of six and fell in love with it. She did competitive gymnastics until the age of 17 but had to stop her optional gymnastics career due to an unfortunate car accident. She quickly realized she couldn’t stay away from the gym so began coaching.
She fell in love with seeing the children’s smiles when she taught them something new. She has been coaching for 6 years everything from preschool to level 6. She USAG certified as well as safety certified. She has passed all NCSI background checks. She is currently in school at Keiser University studying radiology.
Ali started gymnastics at the age of three. Over the course of the next 11 years she took tumbling, ballet, and other dance classes as well. She continued to compete and made it all the way to level nine before she had to leave the sport due to injuries and time restraints. At this point Ali turned to Cheerleading, making varsity all four years in high school.
She then went on to cheer for the Gators at the university of Florida, including the 2006 ad 2008 NCAA Football Championships and the 2006 NCAA Basketball Championship. While at UF Ali majored in psychology with a minor in education. She has since been able to teach and coach at the elementary, middle and high school levels. She has completed NCSI background checks and is pediatric and adult CPR certified. Ali is very excited to be coaching gymnastics here at Lakewood Ranch Gymnastics.
Sophie Kiehl is a recent graduate of Lakewood Rach High School. She is 18 years old and is a student at the State College of Florida. She has had a lifelong love for Gymnastics and started training when she was three years old. She trained Lakewood Ranch Gymnasts (LWRG) for a couple years, devoting over 15 hours a week of rigorous training to ready herself for competitions. Her passion was and still is the competitive aspect of the sport. She competed as an Xcel at LWRGs until she was 13 years old.
Sophie moved to Melbourne, Australia at age 13 and continued her training abroad for serval more years as a level 9, until she moved back the United States in late 2015. Since then, she had to spend a significant amount time with her studies in the USA in order to graduate on time, in 2017. She loves Gymnastics with all her heart and relishes the opportunity to coach the young athletes at LWRG.